Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Card Throwing

A while ago I described a method in which you could protect yourself with the ninja star. But let’s say that you want to start off with something a little less damaging. You know, perhaps something that won’t chop your finger off in the art of throwing it. Well just pull out a pack of playing cards and practice wording off your enemies.

Card throwing is the art of throwing standard playing cards. This practice finds its origins in Western stage magic as well as in Eastern martial arts legends and movies.

Did you know?- Rick Smith, Jr. holds the Guinness World Record for longest card throw at 216 feet and 4 inches, reaching a speed of 92 mph!

Earlier magicians would use thicker items known solely as throwing cards that were similar to modern business cards. Their increased mass and customized shape allowed them to be thrown farther and faster resulting in greater force upon impact. Ultimately, this allowed the performer to penetrate thick objects and put on a more entertaining show.

Word of mouth eventually led to the myth that a playing card cold kill. The theory was put to the test on the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters where the myth was busted. It was confirmed that playing cards lack enough mass to transfer sufficient energy to their targets on impact. Even when accelerated by an electric motor to over 150 mph, a card was barely capable of inflicting a paper cut.

Now that you’ve been briefed, let’s get to the fun part; throwing cards! Below I have described the two most popular throwing techniques, though there are countless variations out there.

Jay throwing technique

This technique was created by stage magician, actor, and writer Ricky Jay. His 1977 book, Cards as Weapons, showcases his technique. It involves gripping the middle of the card horizontally between the thumb and the middle finger, while the index finger rests on the corner of the card nearest the hand and away from the body.

The wrist is cocked inward at 90° then flicked briskly outward propelling the card. For distance and power, one adds motion of the forearm bending at the elbow straight outwards from a 90 degree angle simultaneous to the flicking motion of the wrist.

For a more detailed look at Jay’s method, click here to see an actual excerpt from Cards as Weapons.

Thurston grip

Howard Thurston was one of the first performers to introduce card throwing in Western stage acts. In his grip, the card is gripped between the first and second fingers, usually of the left hand. This grip is recommended for beginners because it is very consistent.

I don’t know if the video below is fake or not, but if it’s true then I’m truly afraid of someone armed with cards. Watch Ricky Jay chop a pencil in half with the flick of his wrist!

I want to know…With the invention of superheroes, there have been many villains and good-guys alike that have possessed the ability to throw seemingly ordinary objects with deadly precision. If your ability was to kill with playing cards, what would your superhero name be? Leave a comment below.

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